Florida State v. Georgia Tech: It's not just assignment football

Kevin C. Cox

I figure I should get this out of the way.

Florida State has a chance to win its first conference title since 2005 Saturday in Charlotte against Georgia Tech. Many fans are disappointed in the opponent, but that is completely out of Florida State's control, and it did what it needed to do to get to the game, finishing with its best ACC record since it expanded in 2005 (admittedly against one of the worst ACCs in recent memory).

Georgia Tech runs the flexbone spread triple-option. It is a pain to prepare for, and getting the team's mind right after the loss to Florida will be a major test for Jimbo Fisher, who failed to lead the Seminoles to the conference title in his first two seasons as head coach.

But let's get one thing out of the way: it's not just assignment football. I know many of you played against the option in peewee and high school football. This is not the same thing. At all. This is a different beast. And it's one that Tech runs quite well, particularly since it switched its quarterback.

But why isn't it as simple as "you take the dive, you take the QB, I'll take the pitch man" assignment football? Because Georgia Tech is really, really good at quickly figuring out defensive assignments and blocking them. They change their blocking schemes from series to series, and sometimes from play-to-play.

Offense F/+
Clemson 13.40%
Georgia Tech 10.10%
Florida 5.00%
Miami 3.90%
South Florida 3.30%
Duke 2.10%
N.C. State -2.40%
Virginia Tech -5.20%
Boston College -6.70%
Wake Forest -10.60%
Maryland -14.00%

So no, it's not as simple as assignment football. Sure, assignments are important, but the impetus cannot be placed solely on one player. It's about the defense pursuing the football while still keeping good leverage on the ball to prevent cutback runs. And it's about stopping the dive and disrupting the plays before they start. Negative plays kill Georgia Tech's offense, and as such, tackles for loss must be had. That's done by defensive linemen and linebackers winning one-on-one battles on plays in which they're supposed to be blocked.

Almost all offenses struggle in longer down and distance situations. But because of Tech's complete lack of a drop-back passing game, it is especially vulnerable.

If FSU can get Georgia Tech in 2nd-&-8+ and 3rd-&-5+, it can have success against this offense.

How good is Georgia Tech's offense? Pretty good, actually. Going by the F/+ ratings, which take into account opponent quality and exclude garbage time scores, Georgia tech is the second best offense Florida State will have faced.

Of course, those ratings take into account the entire season. For instance, USF and Maryland's offensive numbers have taken a dive of late as both teams lost their quarterbacks to injury.

Georgia Tech's, on the other hand, have trended up quite steadily, as Tech has switched quarterbacks from Tevin Washington to Vad Lee. This game might not be as easy as some think.

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